Cicada Symphony Newberry County Investigates Mysterious Siren-like Sounds A Comprehensive Guide

Cicada Symphony: Newberry County Investigates Mysterious Siren-like Sounds: A Comprehensive Guide

Last week, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office received a slew of phone calls from area residents concerned about a specific sound they were hearing outside.

“We had several calls about a noise in the air that sounds like a siren, whine, or roar,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.

So, What Was All the Commotion About?

“The sound is cicadas,” the message read. “Cicadas are a superfamily of insects that emerge each spring. The nymphs had been underground for 13-17 years, and now they are hatching.

Although Brood XIX cicadas are on the rise in the Upstate, the sheriff’s office assures people that they are only a nuisance and not a threat.

“Although some find the sounds bothersome, they pose no threat to humans or pets. Unfortunately, it’s the sounds of nature,” the message stated.

What are Cicadas and What Do They Look Like?

Clemson University describes cicadas as thick-bodied, plant-feeding insects that cling to trees and vegetation. They are 1-2 inches long and have compound eyes in black and red, while some may appear with blue or white eyes. Two eyes are preferable to one, but cicadas are fortunate to have three called ocelli, which are positioned in the center of their heads. The insects’ wings are thick with noticeable veins, and their antennae are short.

Cicadas are distinguished by their loud, piercing noise and exoskeletons (discarded shells). Cicadas are part of the Auchenorrhyncha suborder, which also includes hemipterans such as leafhoppers and spittlebugs. They have a global presence. They inhabit in the United States’ eastern and southern regions.

Annual and periodic cicadas are sometimes mistaken with one another. In South Carolina, yearly cicadas, which are black and green, can be heard throughout the summer. Periodical cicadas are smaller, measuring 1.5 inches. They are black with red eyes and orange veins in their wings and only appear every 13-17 years. Cicadas from brood XIX appear on a periodic basis.

“People hear the annual cicadas every year,” said Eric Benson, Clemson University’s extension entomologist. “During the hot summer months, dog day cicadas can be heard. That wailing in the trees is most noticeable in the late afternoon or evening. Those are cicadas, males calling for females. But, you know, that may be tens of hundreds (of cicadas), not thousands or millions. It’s only the sheer volume that makes them so audible.”

How do Cicadas Make Their Sounds?

According to Britannica, there are over 3,000 species of cicada, each with its peculiar sound. Male cicadas are the only ones that make the sound, which is used to establish authority and lure females for mating. Before copulation, a courting cry is generated. Another sound application is to repel predators. Periodical cicadas are louder than annual cicadas because of their enormous numbers.

According to Britannica, the tymbal organ is a feature of cicada anatomy that distinguishes it from other insects. Each male has a pair of round, ridged elements on the back and side surfaces of the first abdominal segment. When the tymbal muscle linked to the membrane is contracted, it bends and emits a clicking sound. As the muscle relaxes, the tymbal returns to its normal position. The contractions occur in quick succession, moving 120-480 times per second and producing a sound that appears continuous to the human ear. The sound is amplified by air sacs that contain resonance frequencies akin to tymbal vibrations. This is why cicadas appear to be buzzing.

Are Cicadas Dangerous to Humans and Pets?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, cicadas are harmless to humans and pets and do neither sting or bite. Although they pose no hazard to pets, cats and dogs who swallow too many of the small animals may experience a momentary upset stomach, leading to vomiting.

Avoid squashing cicadas as they offer environmental benefits.

  • They provide food for birds and other predators.
  • Aerating lawns improve water filtering into the ground.
  • As they decay, they enrich the soil.

When Will the Cicadas Die Out?

According to USA TODAY, after male and female cicadas have married and the female has laid eggs, the insects will die after only five weeks above ground. Adult periodical cicadas, on the other hand, can survive only three or four weeks, according to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *